I wonder why we, as human beings, are engineered to physically feel emotional pain in one of our internal organs. On a biologically fundamental level, I find that really fascinating. How did we evolve so that when we feel terrible pain from losing someone, the pain is concentrated in a muscle that pumps blood around our bodies?
From a day-to-day, have-to-live-with-it point of view though, it doesn’t matter why. It just matters that it simply does hurt.
There feels like such a lead weight hanging around my heart, making it unbearably ache. I think that because I’ve lived with this pain now and for such a long time, it doesn’t bother me as much as it did the first time I felt it.
I’m okay though and in a way, I find the pain comforting. It confirms beyond doubt how much I love someone who is no longer there and that I will never see again.
That is the brutal, but honest truth of the pain of loss.
It doesn’t just attach itself to bereavement either – it can be felt through loss of lots of things, including the break down and loss of a relationship, job, and friendship and so on.
My Mum was never a straightforward person in life and in death, the grief I feel for her loss follows suit. I don’t just grieve her loss, I mourn the loss of her potential to have changed and been something better. The fact that she wasn’t okay for a lot of years and how she would never know what it was like to be older and actually be well and okay.
I mourn the little, cheeky, smiling girl she was, that I see staring out at me from the plethora of black and white photos of her I have. That little person, growing up one day to be my Mum and not knowing what life had in store for her.
I have a photo of her as a child on my desk at work, amongst the photos of my children. I feel so maternal towards her, in a roundabout way, because I mothered her desperately when I spent my last few hours with her. All I could think of to do, was groom her, clean her, kiss her and hold her. I cuddled into her, like my toddler does now with me when she gets into bed with me.
She didn’t know I was there, but I cuddled down with her when she lay dying. I lay half on and half off her hospital bed, my fingers tangled with hers, our foreheads touching. I wanted to feel like I was five years old again and wanting my Mummy. I wanted to remember that, despite how much she couldn’t be in my life, she was still my Mummy and I was still her baby girl.
I felt that for the last time in my life. I got to remember being tiny again and needing her to just hold my hand and love me whilst I dozed.
My grandmother, her Mum, would have been 78 if she was still alive – which isn’t too old these days, adding the tragedy of her own early loss. I am just grateful for the small mercy of my Nan not being there to see my Mum pass. I know my Nan came for her soul when it was time for her to go on that sunny February afternoon, but if she had physically been around for it, she would have been blown apart by it. I’m glad I got to go through all this instead of her. I’ve buried two of my own babies and I know how annihilating that is, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
Grief is utterly unpredictable, strangling and merciless. The pain is unyielding and really doesn’t care about you, your health and welfare or anyone around you. It cannot be bottled forever and there isn’t enough stiff-upper lip, stoicity, dignity or will-power that can stop it, remove it or replace it. It is water. It will always find a way out of you and it is as patient as the eternal rocks beneath.
It is shit for those around you and it will make you guilty and terrible – but it has to come out and it must play out. It will never leave, it will always be there, but the bulk of its confusion and horror must ebb away like the waters of a tsunami.
If you are currently feeling appalling too, on account of grief through bereavement or a break up of some description, then just remember – a hurting heart proves that there is love there and how beautiful that is. It not feel that way, but being able to produce something as beautiful as love is so amazing.
And I’m proud of you too – because I get how shit it is.